As the face of Women’s soccer in the United States, Alex Morgan has been a top trending term nationally Twitter on all U.S. Women’s National Team match days. This despite the fact she has only scored one goal this World Cup and hasn’t had a ton of true scoring chances throughout the tournament.
Obviously, fitness issues, certainly more so at the beginning, have been a big part of that.
Maybe Morgan was more injured than the USWNT led on during the group stage? Maybe Coach Jill Ellis has pulled off a bit of Bill Belichickian genius regarding the knowledge surrounding her injury?
Whatever the reason, her minutes were limited early on, and she hasn’t been that focal point of the team that many thought she would be.
On the plus side though, she hasn’t needed to be. Fox Sports Analyst Kelly Smith on Alex Morgan’s performances throughout the tournament:
“You’re viewed by the goals you’ve scored, but I think Alex Morgan has brought a different focus to the team. Teams are focusing in on her, but then you’ve got Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd coming in to the mix. She’s probably not been at her fittest with her injury coming in, but everyone is focused on Alex Morgan that other players are stepping up.”
Yes, the U.S. has a lot of depth at forward. At least that was the conventional wisdom heading into this tournament. The narrative went that the U.S. would run roughshod over opponents with their army of attackers. When in reality, the opposite has happened. America is winning with defense.
Soccer pundit Grant Wahl made his pick for the Golden Ball: USWNT Defender Becky Sauerbrunn:
“I think if the U.S. wins this tournament, Carli Lloyd will win the MVP award, but if it were up to me, I would pick Becky Sauerbrunn. Becky Sauerbrunn has been the rock of the U.S. defense, along with Julie Johnston. Sauerbrunn is great in the positioning. She never seems to be stretched or racing back to her corner, so I would give her the award right now.”
So even though Alex Morgan hasn’t put up huge numbers this World Cup, she’s made a big contribution. She’s served a very important role as a sort of decoy for the team. Obviously, she has the talent, skill, ability and most importantly, the track record to be the MVP.
However, Alex Morgan hasn’t needed to fulfill that alpha role.
Paul M. Banks owns, operates and writes The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with Fox Sports Digital. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes to the Chicago Tribune RedEye edition. He also appears regularly on numerous sports talk radio stations all across the country.Follow paulmbanks